Tuesday, 3 May 2016

GREENWICH OBSERVATORY: TIMEBALL IN ACTION

Alice (who is visiting from Canada) and I had a lovely sunny day together strolling through the grounds and buildings in Greenwich.  The Maritime Museum and Observatory are there -  lots to see; lots of history.

These photos show the Time Ball in resting position, then raised, then dropped at 1 pm.  Ships used to set their chronometers to this time-keeping mechanism.  Indeed, the building is in a prominant position on the bank of the Thames.

There are still a few time balls around the world, e.g. New York Times Square which everyone watches at 1 minute to midnight on New Year's Eve.




Alice noticed the sundog feature in the sky above us as we stood below the time ball on its dome looking upwards. 

Sunday, 24 April 2016

STIRLING MIS-ADVENTURE

Yesterday I stumbled on the curb outside the Albert Hall in Stirling and fell headlong in front of some passers-by with only my glasses suffering any real damage. The (foreign speaking) folk picked me up and with a few more folk, directed me to Henderson’s Bistro inside the hall. The lovely lady manager gave me tea and sympathy.  I hope today is a better day!

Meanwhile Robert Burns continues to occupy his prominent position near the Albert Hall.   We had just been talking about him at lunchtime.  It seems much of the material in the Mitchell Library, in the Burns Collection, is still uncatalogued.  I believe this is also the case in the British Museum, i.e. there are still crates in the basement (or wherever) that have never been opened.  Things are changing though... and this is entirely due to the internet, i.e. people asking.

And nearby is Rob Roy MacGregor whose height would seem to only be around 5 feet.  I presume the statue is life-size.

And lastly, in the same area under the castle, this statue, well, actually it was the inscription, caught my eye:  

CAMPBELL BANNERMAN 1836 - 1905 
AN EMPIRES TRIBUTE

 It seems the lack of apostrophe in public signs is nothing new!

 

Sunday, 17 April 2016

VISIT TO THE FALKIRK WHEEL

I enjoyed my day out expedition to the Falkirk Wheel yesterday.  We went to see the 'ship lift' i.e. canal boat lift near Bonnybridge and then 5 miles further on to see Andy Scott's sculpture of The Kelpies (2 horses heads).

Feats of engineering are always a pull for us and no more so than this wonderful construction. The canal boats (Forth and Clyde Canal) arrive on the top of the photo and go into a capsule at the end which rotates 180 degrees in order to lower the vessel to the canal basin below... (and, of course, vice versa).  The central 'rod' in the middle is the pivoting point around which the Wheel rotates.


The sculptor, Andy Scott, designed and built these structures.  They are quite stunning and much bigger than I had realized.  When he was making them about 20 years ago I visited his workshop on Maryhill Road in Doors Open Days.  I recall the talk being about where they were, eventually, going to be sited.  There was a lot of indecision (read 'hassle') and to-ing and fro-ing I recall.  Also I think they were supposed to be on rafts in the canal basin that rocked at mid-point thereby having the heads move up and down.  If I have this right, it ended up that he got the site but there was not enough water to take the rafts.  Be that as it may, they are on dry land and evoke one single response when you see them ... "Wow"!

The whole place is a visitor's 'experinece' with walks, play areas etc.  Inside the Visitor's Centre is an Educational Room with two heads constructed out of Lego.  Here are Alastair and Ishie making a Lego carrot to stick into the left Kelpie's mouth (above Alastair's head).

Thursday, 14 April 2016

IAIN GOES TO PARLIAMENT

Iain has been in London. He was on a mission. Along with 2 other people he traveled to Westminster House of Parliament to present their case for ... forgive the generalization ... solving the energy crisis. I keep telling people that he hasn't solved it yet (we are talking about Scotland, not the whole world) but this time he really showed is commitment by preparing a presentation for a Select Committee discussing "Renewable Energy in Scotland".  [See text below taken from website description]. 

He gave me the time and location where the discussion would take place so that I could watch it live on Parliament's live video streaming.

This is a screenshot I took of him presenting his case.



It was 2 hours with about 12 people, MPs or MSPs sitting around a table in the shape of a horseshoe with the 3 visiting Scots at the bottom.  It looked very intimidating as the MPs asked questions while referring to their mountains of paper of information gathered on the topic. 

On the whole, they were courteous and made a point of thanking the delegation for coming. (Believe me, this simple practice of good manners is often overlooked!)

He looked really tired at the end of it!  I guess it was a bit like being Daniel in the Lions Den.

Conclusion:  Iain: discouraged at first as he didn't get time to present his case (Chairman cut him short) however, on reflection, reckoned it was worth it.  He also was very impressed with the Palace of Westminster - massive place, full of history!  It was "a slice" [of life]. as they say!

Me: Parliament website and video link were excellent! And it was easy to hear!  It also highlighted something else: gone are the days of learning the art of rhetoric* (let alone logic and politic) in our education.  Those are skills that would have been useful e.g. how to present a case clearly, succinctly; how to respond (think of Socrates answering a question with another question... which would, at the very least, give time to collect your thoughts).

*  Rhetoric -  Classically the theoretical basis for the art of oratory, is the art of using words effectively.  [Encylopedia Brittanica]




Sunday, 10 April 2016

LINDISFARNE HOLDIAY 4: CORNERS IN THE BORDERS

This is the last, i.e. fourth of four, posts on our trip to the Borders.  The photos are a miscellaneous bunch.  What the trip has done is to make me look at the history of the area, i.e. Scottish and English battles in the area as well as thinking about getting a book on masons' marks. We see so many fine abbeys and castles and over the years I have always been intrigued by what a particular mason's mark might be and where would you look for it.  Somewhere there must be a 'catalogue'!

Flodden 
This is a battlefield memorial site, not in Scotland, as I had thought but just over the border from Coldstream, in Englandshire.  J

John took this photo of Harriet and I walking up the slope to read the plague. You get a very good view of the lay of the land, i.e. how the Scottish warriors were defeated by the English warriors - all very bloody.  We are talking 1513 when limbs were chopped off and horses hauling heavy canons (i.e. Scottish ... apparently not so heavy English and therein lies the outcome....) were maouvering (not) in the mud.

 Dryburgh Abbey
Grandpa and Two Little Munchkins (John's photo)


 The farm where we stayed ... near Jedburgh  


Bamburgh Castle

Is this where Ride a Cock Horse to Bamburgh Cross is based? This is John's lovely photo of Mairi, Ishie (9) and Ellie (1). We gals all enjoyed sitting on the park bench (out of sight) eating Victoria Sponge purchased from the local Craft and Baking Event in the Pavillion.

 

Friday, 8 April 2016

ROSSLYN CHAPEL: MYSTERIOUS SHADOWS

This very famous chapel, now much improved since visitors following the Dan Brown Da Vinci Code 'experience' have provided much needed money to sort out a very old, rather neglected building.

Ellie and I spent some time there on our way home to Glasgow from Lindisfarne.  For me, it was a return visit. It was long ago, before the Visitor's Centre was built (and very fine it is too).  The "exit through the gift shop" [Banksy's take on modern culture] has not changed; it still has an excellent selection of books.


While libraries are usual place to go to keep out of the rain, I found myself waiting with Ellie, fast asleep in her pushchair in this little 'room' off the main chapel. It had a baptismal font in it and a big kist (chest) for weary Grandma's to rest.

  

Using my iPhone I took this photo of the stained glass window above my head.
 

And then this photo of the face of the font which shows the stone carving.

 

Again using my iPhone I took this photo of the carved woodwork above my head.  This shot, and the 2 ones above, are not Photoshoped.  

However, when I put this wood carving photo on my computer ... what did I see but four bells!  Now that was not evident when I was looking at it in the room while sitting on the kist.  Here it is more closely.  You can see where the wood edges actually finish in the shadowy areas.

It was natural light in the little room and it was about 3 pm. Did the wood carver know that light, or should I say, shadow, would have that particular effect?   Mr Brown? Any answers for that one?!





Thursday, 7 April 2016

LINDISFARNE 2: THE HARBOUR


To get to the Holy Island it is necessary to drive across a causeway which joins the island to mainland Northumberland.  A critical detail of this journey is the fact that the causeway gets covered at high tide.

So the signs up up!


And as we know from sailing if get caught, e.g. going aground on a falling tide, there is absolutely nothing you can do about it!  So we were careful to time our visit from when the tide was just low enough to be able to drive over the causeway and make our return before the rising tide covered it.



It's a lovely harbour.  There is a village there with overnight accommodation too.  If ever one wanted a Retreat, this would be the place.  It is easy to see why the monks of Lindisfarne chose it in the early days of Christianity.
 


Being ever mindful of boats in  harbours I took this photo of some boats on the shore.
 
This was me trying to be arty. John was driving. I was in the passenger seat.  I turned around and took this photo (iPhone) looking over my shoulder out through the back seat window.  (In the back on the whole of our trip was Baby Ellie in the car seat, Alastair in the middle and young Harriet in the second car seat behind me.)

What I did not notice until I looked at the photo in Photoshop was Harriet's handprints on the car window!  Ah-h-h-h ... instead of  calling this photo "Pilgrims on Their Return Walk from Lindisfarne" it might be better to label it "Holidays with the Grandchildren!"